Through her art, Jessie Spencer explores the female form, sensuality and emotion. After launching her brand Sage Rider with a jewellery line in LA a few years ago, she’s back living in Sydney and has turned her focus to the craft of contour drawings. With her clean, minimal lines, Jessie’s aim is to engage people’s imagination and spur them to fill in the blanks – she says the imagination is always far more evocative.
This week marks the launch of Jessie’s first solo exhibition at a cool little gallery in Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay. To coincide with this, Jess and I sat down and had a chat about the inspiration behind her first exhibition, how she uses art as an escape and her obsession with music…
Where did the inspiration for Sage Rider come from?
I had my own jewellery line for a few years, but I reached a point where I wasn’t feeling satisfied by it anymore. It was draining me financially, and also a bit emotionally really. I decided I was going to wrap it up and I starting thinking about what else I could do as a creative outlet – I knew I needed some sort of outlet or I would go mad.
I’ve always been into art and thought about setting up a little studio in the garage and painting, but again this would have been another expense. I thought a bit about art apps I could download and play around on, to see what sorts of things I could create without buying all the art supplies. So I found a little Art Studio app and after exploring all the features, I realised I could create these line drawings using photos as a guide and just my finger to draw. Sage Rider kind of grew from there…
What is your exhibition about?
It’s about the female form, sensuality and emotion. It’s about me expressing themes that are important and relevant to me and my life at this point in time.
You will see female shapes in the form of yoga poses, sad expressions in face and body, sensual and sexual expressions, all through the use of minimal lines.
Who’s work are you influenced by?
I love the simplicity of Matisse’s line drawings, and the confronting themes of Francis Bacon’s work. Artists today that I’m influenced by are Frederic Forest – love his minimal line drawings, Christiane Spangsberg’s abstract drawings, as well as Tina Maria Elena Bak – love her erotic water colour painting’s.
What does art mean to you?
Art can be anything. To me it is purely an outlet to express myself, but I also want it to look aesthetically pleasing and for people to want to hang it in their homes. Art can be beautiful, it can make a statement, it can be ugly, it can be whatever you want it to be. I don’t think there are any rules around what art is, what it isn’t or what it should be – it’s up to each individual to determine what art is to them.
For me personally, I definitely use it as a bit of an escape. I’m a dreamer, both awake and asleep. I am always imagining a life away from the daily grind of work and the repetitive nature of it all. If I’m feeling sad or stressed about anything, it is a place I can go to immerse myself and just forget about everything else that is troubling me. Even if it’s just for just an hour a day, it makes me happy.
You spent some time living in LA – what was this like and what were you doing there?
LA was also a bit of an escape for me. I went over there with no job and hardly any money, but like everyone who goes to LA, I was excited by the prospect of something cool happening.
It did and it didn’t. I had some really amazing experiences there and felt a sense of freedom I had never felt before. But it was there that I decided to start my first venture, which was my jewellery line. Everything about LA influenced the aesthetic for my brand. I do have great memories of my time over there, but I wouldn’t go back again to live.
Aside from art, what else inspires you?
I’m obsessed with music. I’m particularly influenced by my father who was always playing blues and rock’n’roll as I was growing up. I like a lot of types of music, but I would have to say that for me blues is the most emotive and the genre I connect to the most. I love live music; it is easily one of my favourite things to do. Even if you don’t love the music, there’s something about the energy and the vibe of a live gig that you can’t help but connect to.
What’s next for Sage Rider?
I’ve been speaking to a few people about some potential collaborations – I think they are a great opportunity to blend creative minds and see how other people work. I love photography and am thinking of ways to integrate it into my drawings.
How do you relate to the word ‘adrift’?
To me, the word ‘adrift’ means to float along somewhat aimlessly. I like this idea as again it means not being rooted in the ground and stuck in a repetitive cycle. It connotes fluidity and the notion of escapism, so it therefore resonates with me a lot. I think I like the idea of doing what I want and not being confined to the structures of day to day life, and the word ‘adrift’ exemplifies that.
Sage Rider, ‘Lines of Femininity’ will show at the Tortoiseshell Gallery in Elizabeth Bay from 21st June – 9th July.